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No slowing down near century mark

Published March 1, 2007


Roger Gentilhomme of Dunedin wishes he could explain his longevity and outstanding quality of life. If anything, said the 97-year-old, he would have to credit his late wife Florence's gourmet cooking.

Beyond that, Gentilhomme said, he tries to take care of himself, eat properly and especially keep as active as possible.

"I'm still driving, living on my own and feel fine," Gentilhomme said. "I feel fortunate. I get up around 7:15 each morning and don't get to bed before midnight. I play tennis about every day in Dunedin, go dancing every couple of weeks, ride my bike to the fitness center three to four times a week, play cards and bowl. I've outlived my arthritis and hay fever."

In December, Gentilhomme earned his fifth trip to a Senior Olympics after winning gold in tennis, bowling and shuffleboard in the Florida Senior Games. The national event starts June 22 in Louisville, Ky.

"It's getting harder and harder to find opponents in my age group, so I often have to play against younger players," Gentilhomme said. "That's okay, though, I just enjoy playing."

Gentilhomme hits with spin and said he has better control when he's at the net. Though he may not be as quick as he used to be in getting to the net, that's where he tries to be.

For more than 40 years, Gentilhomme worked in the textile industry in New England. Having attended the University of Massachusetts in 1933 to study the textile industry, Gentilhomme worked as an assistant designer, a textile inspector and oversaw the operation mills in the New England area.

Tennis didn't come on Gentilhomme's radar until after he retired from the industry in 1975 at the age of 65. Once he began to play, Gentilhomme was hooked.

In 1994, his daughter first shared information about Pinellas County's Good Life Games' multi-sport competition and the opportunity to advance to the Florida Senior Games and possibly the National Senior Games. The next year, Gentilhomme advanced to his first Senior Olympics.

"I enjoy the competition, although the players change," Gentilhomme said. "They grow old, die, get aches and pains or lose interest. My kids keep after me to keep going, so that's what I'm trying to do."

Gentilhomme has become a celebrity of sorts and has been interviewed on a local radio station and the subject of various articles in magazines and newspapers. This month in Palm Beach, Gentilhomme is being honored by the UMass Dartmouth chancellor and UMass president. Also this month, he will receive a special award during one of the Phillies spring training games.

Next month, Gentilhomme travels to Tallahassee to receive the Florida Male Athlete of the Year award.

"I wish I could give a secret recipe for living long and living well because a lot of people ask me," Gentilhomme said. "All I know is I feel good and I always try to take care of myself. Besides that, I just keep busy."

NET SHOTS: Winners in last weekend's West Coast Super Senior Grand Prix at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center included Marc Mazo in the men's 55-and-over and top seed Bob Meyerdierks the 80 in singles and Meyerdierks and Lyn Abbot 80 doubles, Dave Krebs and Oz Winters 70 and top seed Ralph Howe and Don Mathias 65. Among the finalists were Bill Christensen 60, Howe (65) and Dick Crawford (70).

- Fourth-seeded Becky Bodine reached the girls 14-and-under final in this month's USTA National Open at the Bardmoor Golf and Tennis Club. Top seed Julia Jones was third.

In doubles, Jones teamed with Rachel James-Baker of Boynton Beach to win the girls 14 doubles. Bodine and Riqui McCoy of Key Biscayne were finalists.

- Among the winners in last weekend's Winter Classic at the Seminole Lake Racquet Club were top seeds Amy Lowther in the girls 14, Damian Rossi Pittau boys 18, Jake Gabay 10, and Kento Tagashire 14.

Finalists included Jacqueline Lazaro (girls 10), Nicholas Halverson (boys 10) and Michael Beiler (14).

- Winners in last month's Treasure Island Rookie tournament included Christina McTaggart in the girls 18-and-under, Livia Toth 14, Yasmin Franco 12, Jacqueline Landry 10, Kento Tagashira boys 14, Tyler Berning 12 and Jake Gabay 10.

- Team Tennis Junior League is registering for its upcoming season to begin March 18. Call 724-6400 or visit

PROS EVENT: In addition to the competitors in last week's Sheriff Jim Coats Third Annual Clearwater Women's Open, a $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event, there were about 20 certified referees coordinated by USTA chief of umpires Roger White of Belleair. White is one of only about a dozen national trainers and evaluators. Also from Pinellas at the tournament were Terry Logan, Julie Panton and Rick Martin.

SATURDAY: A USTA-sponsored recreational coaches workshop is 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 3 at the Largo Tennis Center. Cost is $25. For more information, contact site host Julie Panton at 744-3966 or

SAVE THE DATE: The inaugural Stroke for Stroke, presented by Morton Plant Mease Health care, is April 20-22 at the McMullen Tennis Complex. Men's and women's doubles and mixed team tennis is planned. For more info, call 418-8074 or e-mail

COMING UP: Countryside Country Club hosts its Junior Championships this weekend. Call 796-1136. ...A St. Petersburg Rookie contest is Saturday at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center. Call 823-2225. ...The Royal Racquet Spring Fling begins March 9 at Royal Racquet Club in Clearwater. Call 799-3200. ...A Rockin' Rookie Tournament begins March 10 at the Seminole Lake Racquet Club. Call 394-1733.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.

[Last modified March 1, 2007, 00:19:37]

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